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Programs 2 Masters before PhD - Astrophysics related

  1. Nov 15, 2007 #1
    Hi Everyone.

    I thought I'd pose this question here since I've gotten much conflicting advice about this from pretty much everywhere.

    My goal is to get a PhD in astrophysics. I am interested in both theoretical and observational cosmology. My undergrad degree is in physics. The reason why I did not go straight into a PhD program after my Bachelors is because of my physics gre score. My school did not offer many of the classes covered on the exam, plus I was nervous, etc... So I completed a Masters degree in physics at a local, but well known private school. I worked as a TA during that time, and my grades are pretty decent I guess (7 A's, 2 B's, and 1C). I learned alot there, but I really didn't enjoy it (my research interests didn't fit the department, and the professors weren't really all that friendly).

    An opportunity came up at my undergrad school to go into an NSF sponsored fellowship program for a Masters degree in Math. So my former advisor told me about it, I applied for it, and I was accepted. So now I am working on my second Masters degree in math, I have a two year NSF fellowship, and I am doing really well there. And I am learning alot of advanced math.

    I had two papers in major journals as an undergrad (both related to dynamical systems), and I am going good research now (I expect to publish a few more papers by the time I complete my second Masters). I have not retaken the physics GRE, but I expect to score better this time since I have a better background now.

    I am worried about this: When I apply for the astrophysics PhD, will people think that I am just some person that wants to be in grad school forever, or that I "flip-flop" (for lack of a better term) on what I want to do with my life (even though astrophysics had always been the ultimate goal)? By the time I enter a PhD program, I will be 27 years old. I know places are not supposed to discriminate based on age, but I know that an admissions committee will prefer 22 year olds for grad students. Do you think two Masters degrees will help me or hurt me?

    Any advice or experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this.:smile:

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2007 #2


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    I don't think having these two MS degrees or your age hurt your chances for entering a PhD program in astrophysics. I think what a committee is looking for is a prepared student. So, you should be prepared to get right into research upon entering the PhD program [since most, if not all, of your required coursework would probably be done].

    Good luck.
  4. Nov 15, 2007 #3
    I agree with Robphy. Having two master's degrees will be looked on favorably by an admissions committee because it will show that you're well prepared and can handle the work. I don't know why you'd think of it as flip-flopping; astrophysics and math are very much intertwined!

    As for the age, you're young. It's very common for older students (older than you) to pursue advanced degrees.

    Good luck!
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